Elevation Change

 

There are at least two things to be gleaned from the above tweets: (1) I’ve accepted a position to join Amy Collier’s instructional design team in Stanford’s Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning; (2) I had better get ready for a wild ride.

I’m absolutely honored that Amy and her team have invited me into their fold. The work they are doing and the opportunities therein have me chomping at the bit to get started. My job description says something like I’ll be “responsible for developing, designing, and supporting courses for blended and online delivery.” I’m sure this is broadly accurate, but I suspect what it ultimately means for the VPOL, Stanford’s students and faculty, MOOC learners, and me professionally will change rapidly over the coming months. That’s a good thing and you get a strong whiff of this in a recent blog post by Amy entitled “Instructional design and the MOOC.” It’s not news that higher education is the domain of rapidly emerging instructional opportunities and constraints. Thus, instructional designers need to agilely and accurately know when to assimilate the new into the old and when to accommodate the old with the new. It takes creativity and stubbornness, idealism and pragmatism, long views and short wins. It’s a field fraught with “wicked problems.” I wonder pretty much every day if I have what it takes to fit this bill. I’m glad for that.

As is always the case, our jobs are ultimately about the people we work with, serve, and learn from. I have yet to grasp how much I will miss the incredible, inspiring, generous, and kind hearted people I’ve had the privilege to work with here at CU Boulder. (I’m looking at you @mcandrewa, @markgammon, @MarkWerner, @sinkinsonc, @GrantatCU, and many other non-tweep CU peeps.) In many ways our work of serving students and faculty better is just beginning and though it’s more than cliche to say; I believe the best is yet to come.

Finally, the “why.” Why leave a beautiful place filled with wonderful colleagues? To answer that question I can only steal from George Veletsianos because he says it much more eloquently than I can about his own recent transition: “…I care about education and individual’s learning experiences. I care about societal well-being and growth, about social justice, and see education as a way to eradicate inequities and injustices.” One narrative is that Stanford, the ed tech companies it spawns, and the Sand Hill Road VCs that lurk in the shadows are manufacturing a catastrophe, perverting every value higher ed stands upon, and profiting from the fallout. I don’t disagree with everything contained in this narrative, but I also don’t share the determinism of many in this camp. Moments and movements such as this — especially those with such deep socio-cultural ties — are never so black, white, and foreclosed. The “MOOC moment” is not so black, white, and foreclosed; it’s most definitely not the end of reform. I believe we can leverage the energy of this moment to dramatically improve the educational experiences of residential students while also reaching out to resource and support “external” learners and their communities in ways not previously possible. If we care, then this has to be our goal our vision our burden, right? I believe Stanford is the exactly the right place for me to be a part of such a vision. (Alternately, it may only be in the lion’s den where miracles happen — however you want to frame it.) I may be a bit naive and a Pollyanna (always have been), but I care and I’m joining a team that cares. I think that matters a lot.

So soon we’ll pack up our belongings, descend 5,400 feet or so, and leave our beloved Flatirons behind. I’m not too worried though; apparently Amy will be providing her staff with tools for quickly regaining speed and elevation:

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  • Mark Gammon

    You get a rocket-equipped backpack? NO FAIR!

    Best of luck to you Andy. I’m really glad we were able to do some work together at CU Boulder and I look forward to keeping that going from our various locales.

    Is this also where I send my congratulations to @mcandrewa and condolences to @amcollier? 😉

  • Thanks Mark! And congrats to you, too!

    I think I did see @mcandrewa do a little fist pump under the table when I told our staff. She tried to hide it, but the moment must have taken over.

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